Chris Thompson: The RB to Own in Jacksonville
With the Jaguars releasing RB Leonard Fournette this week, a monstrous hole has suddenly opened up at the position in Jacksonville. Speculation has risen as to whether Ryquell Armstead, Devine Ozigbo, or even James Robinson will be the one to fill the shoes of the former Jaguar. Unfortunately for all of them, the answer is a player who was formerly on the Washington Football Team and reunited with his old HC. That player is Chris Thompson.
Those familiar with PPR leagues already are quite aware of what the RB can bring to the table. With Thompson and Gruden already having a great connection from their time in Washginton, it truly does not matter which other RB will be given more rushing attempts during the season. Even with RB's ahead of Thompson on the depth chart, Jay Gruden has never given them more than 2 targets per game. By contrast, Thompson has averaged over 5 targets per game played in the past 3 seasons under Gruden.
Jay Gruden loves himself some Chris Thompson and best be damned sure that he's going to make it happen in Jacksonville as well.
At the end of the season last year, Leonard Fournette led the entire league in 'garbage time' targets with 23. Before Jay Gruden got fired last year (Week 5), Chris Thompson already had 17 of those same targets.
Another reason why Gruden and Thompson's connection will make the latter a dominant fantasy option in PPR is that despite not playing more than 11 games in the past three seasons, Thompson has averaged over 55 targets. That means despite being hurt and missing time, it didn't negate his usage in Gruden's passing attack. In fact, he was even able to put up career best numbers in a season in which he only played 10 games (2017). As far as 3rd down RB's go, Thompson is easily the best among those who aren't qualified as a starter.
Second-Year Quarterback Gardner Minshew will be expected to throw the ball a lot this year, and having a reliable option out of the backfield can do wonders. Not only for a QB's confidence, but to extend plays on the field as well. With Fournette's 100 targets up for grabs, (and no real threat of them being stolen by anyone else) it's reasonable to expect that Chris Thompson could see a career high in targets, receptions, and receiving yards in the 2020 season; automatically making him extremely relevant in Fantasy Football circles. And for perspective; At the end of the season last year, Leonard Fournette led the entire league in 'garbage time' targets with 23. Before Jay Gruden got fired last year (Week 5), Chris Thompson already had 17 of those same targets.
With Armstead, Ozigbo, and Robinson providing underwhelming options at the position, don't be shocked to see Gruden lean on Thompson in the running attack as well. Despite his lack of actual attempts, Thompson has been above average in that category as well; having only one season where he averaged less than 4 YPC. Don't expect him to blow anyone away with size or speed, but his lateral quickness and vision can allow him plenty of opportunities to vulture carries - especially in the RZ. This may already be true as well, considering the glowing reports of Thompson in RZ drills during Training Camp so far.
While many pundits are trying to conjure up the theories to 'outsmart' others, sometimes the answer is the most obvious. Despite what may be perceived as better options than Chris Thompson, his relationship with OC Jay Gruden is going to be a vital factor as to what his role will be in Jacksonville. I'll be one of the first to tell you that it's going to be huge, so stay prepared.